Louie is proud of this work at Three Sisters Irrigation District – it is a benefit to wildlife and he wants to spread the story. But there is more to it than that. This is a mutual and reciprocal healing: a story I want to spread.
Environmental problems are not a dichotomy of problems with nature on one side and humans on the other. The dichotomy begins to crumble as soon as the concept of nature is removed. How will our relationship with our ecosystems change and how will our decisions be different if the distinction disintegrates altogether?
The creek has been stretched back in time, erasing not only the human created erosion and damage, but also eliminating any chiseling the creek had done on its own prior to human intervention. It’s like shaking a giant Etch A Sketch until all evidence of previous drawings have been eliminated and the raw material is reset to a flat smooth plane where a new drawing can start to take form.
In conjunction with my solo exhibition, Stories Told by Water, Umpqua Valley Arts hosted an artist talk on August 5. In this talk I give context to Stories Told by Water and I introduce work in progress the studio.
This place is defined by water.
I came to Pine Meadow Ranch to listen to stories of the creek on this ranch in Sisters, Oregon. The ranch is idyllic with its unobstructed views of the mountains and Whychus Creek, its milky glacial melt waters originating from Broken Top and all Three Sisters, running through the ranch.
Little, if any land on the ranch is untouched. It is a fully constructed landscape dating back to the 1800s when settlers cleared fields for cattle and began diverting streams to irrigate their ranches. Some of the coveted water rights for this ranch date back to 1895, superseding the water rights of Three Sisters Irrigation District (TSID).
Even if we are wary of beauty and its seductive qualities, it is still very difficult to avoid being seduced. Is there is a bias toward beautiful landscapes regarding scientific research?
My art does not speak directly to environmental crises, environmentalism, or even ecology. There is a lot of art that does and I’m not convinced of the efficacy of much of it to change minds or to offer a new perspective, let alone to initiate action. There is only so much crisis one can take. I know this from experience.
I choose a different approach with my work.
May 20: The beauty and mystery of trees has long been a subject for artists, and more recently, concern for the survival of forests (the lungs of our planet) has been paramount.
I struggle with seeing how I personally cultivate a reciprocal relationship with the land. Every personal relationship to the land is different and every place also presents different relationships and connections. Reflection brought some clarification.
What would happen if fear and guilt is dropped from conversations about the environment? What would it feel like to think of ourselves as part of nature rather than something separate that we need to fix? What if the land is internalized so that we are in fact, healing ourselves? What if we change perspective to be in relationship with the earth?